Tag Archives : social media


Should bloggers be paid for reviews? The #fairpayforbloggers debate. 4

This post might upset people, so here’s a video about making money on the internet. Enjoy.

 

In bloggerland, people are raising the perennial question of being paid for product reviews. “Not Dressed As Lamb” did a  well thought out piece on the subject here, and a follow up here. As I didn’t want to hit her comments section with a wall o’ text, I figured I’d tackle my take on it here.

 

Blogging has been around for 20 years, one of the first being created in 1994, with Steve Gibson being recognized as one of the first professional bloggers…in 1997.  This industry has been around the digital world for a good long time, and while like traditional vs self-publishing, it has gone through a number of iterations, a few truths have remained. The first concerns that good old fashioned chestnut of money.

In the beginning, monetized blogs were exceedingly rare. When I started my very first blog in 2001-02, they were an anomaly. The first non-industry (eg gaming, technology) blog I knew that monetized was Dooce, in around 2004 or so. Dooce then kicked off the decade long trend of Mommybloggers, who were focusing their blogs not on concepts or ideas, but rather a general sense of themselves. Now we have a far more niche-based blogosphere, with specific fashion, DIY, parenting, education, etc, as well as general lifestyle/parenting/’personal’ blogs, as well as app-specific bloggers (Youtube, twitter, Dayre, even Vine-only bloggers!).

 

I told you all of that to tell you this.

 

The problem with paying bloggers what they feel they are worth is (and I mean this with no disrespect to the community as a whole) – what they feel they are worth is not what they are worth to a brand. Brands began cozying up to bloggers for the same reason every ‘new’ technology gets cozied up to, a brand can save money in advertising. If the newest toy for Christmas wants to hit the eyeballs of parents before they go into a store to shop, they wrangle a few parenting bloggers to do a review, run a giveaway, dedicate a hashtag, and hope for good conversion rates. Make no mistake, PR firms see ‘reviews’ as ‘marketing’, as any blogger who has been around the block knows a bad review means review opportunities dry up, which is why I’ve yet to see a truly scathing review in any modern blog, ever.

In short, bloggers are cheaper than other forms of guerrilla marketing. If another medium comes along that can create the same engagement for less cost to the PR firm/company, bloggers will be dropped – it’s that simple.

 

This has nothing to do with what I was talking about, really, but I love this gif.

If PR firms could find a way to sell their crap using only this gif, no one would have a job tomorrow.

 

The problem comes from supply-side economics and total cost for effort. Let’s take Blogger A and Marketer B. Both need to sell Baby Poops-A-Lot. Let’s see what they go through:

Blogger A Marketer B
Get specs from company and product Get specs from company and product
Take pics of kid playing with product Check Big Data for seasonal trends on font, graphics, colour scheme, etc (do focus group if new/innovative product)
PicMonkey/Photoshop/edit pics for content, clarity, aesthetics Get approval on general theme for colours/font/image tone
Write copy Schedule photoshoot for product
Insert SEO anchor text as required by company Send photos to be professionally edited
Set appropriate hashtags Contract copyeditor
Schedule post Do first pass at copy
Set up Rafflecopter if hosting giveaway Get approval for copy
Push to social media and regularly remind readers about giveaway Get digital edits back in at least 4 forms for choices on approval
Get approval for images and copy
Pitch top 3 combos of images/copy to company
If one is accepted, talk to sales about medium being sold in (catalog, newspaper, magazine, digital)
If not accepted, back to raw copy and images for new package presentation
Continue process till accepted by client company
Push to various outlets
Contact BD company to run post-purchase focus group to track engagement

 

The reason 4 hours of work won’t be paid as a half day of work as in a traditional market is that a blogger would have to do a hell of a lot more high quality work to match traditional marketing. And this isn’t to say that high end bloggers don’t have some great skill sets, but that’s not what a lot of companies are particularly looking for – they want niche eyeballs on page while the pros (marketing companies) handle the general public.

 

Say I’m a company who wants to push my product to a specific group. I know that there are a host of bloggers who will happily share my product for what is essentially at-cost. I’m not interested in award-winning copy and photos, I just want basic, decent writing, and non-blurry pictures. If someone asked for money to review the product, I would ask myself “Does this person have enough daily eyeballs on their site for me to take a little more out of my budget to appease them?” If my ROI (return on investment) is high enough for that one blogger, sure, I’ll do it. But if that became ‘industry standard’, and every blogger, from the biggest to the tiniest, all wanted money to review? I’d close my wallet and look around for the next set of potential leads (Instagrammers, Viners, etc). Harsh, but true. I’ve watched it happen live as mommybloggers used to rule the roost, and are now relegated to the sidelines while fashion and beauty Youtubers become celebrities in their own right. Sunrise, sunset.

 

 

Not Dressed As Lamb seems to echo these sentiments, that having a large pool of people who won’t take payment for what pros will charge is damaging the industry as a whole. In her post she shares a comment from someone who states,

“I had an interesting email recently. It regarded bloggers as journalists in their own right… in effect it is what we do. We deliver written pieces to an audience. A journalist would have a set fee for a written piece. Why do bloggers not? It appears we, as bloggers, are a cheap and effective PR solution”. (Emphasis mine)

 

no just no gif shea wong

nope octopus gif drag race shake head no gif

 

My husband works at the BBC, and our friends work both home and abroad in radio, print, and on-camera presenting for news agencies, so I say this with as much kindness as I can: NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.*  Our friends who work at BBC and AJE and CBS and CNBC see most bloggers through the same ‘cheap labor interloper’ lens as the newly professional bloggers now view hobbyists. It is bad enough when someone thinks blogging a lot = being professional, it is a whole other level of hubris to suggest someone who is getting the newest Lego playset to ‘review’ (eg talk about in glowing terms) is on the same level as my friends who have to get malaria shots and a flack jacket just to go to work. NO.**

 

99.9999999999% of bloggers don’t have the training, ethics, standards, and required feedback of journalists. A journalist who gets paid for a piece had to find a story, put themselves often in danger, follow a specific code of ethics to get said story, write the story, have it returned to them full of red ink from an editor, and fix/polish by a hard deadline. When a newspaper, news network, or magazine hires a journalist, they are hiring the years of education, training, contacts, and networks that the journalist has at their disposal. If you asked a respectable journalist to pepper her report from the Ukraine with an anecdote about Daz getting out insurgent blood and how it was the greatest detergent ever, she’d look at you like you were mad. Or, as the darling Harlan Ellison says:

 

And this is okay! No one is asking bloggers to understand what “lede” or “above the fold” is, or to have a black book of back-alley contacts when they need intel, or to be beheaded in a desert somewhere just for telling the story. Bloggers are offered reviews in an effort to create walking, talking billboards for the PR company’s audience, not be Pulitzer prize winning journos. But that’s also why they don’t deserve the same pay.

 

I’m all for equal pay. But that includes equal skill sets, equal timelines, and equal taxes (Everyone is itemizing their costs and payments, doing their quarterly self-employed tax payments, and filing all forms to pay into their national social security/pension schemes as well as unemployment insurance, right? Because that is what self-employed professionals do – they fill out that 1099 in the US, and the Queen gets hers every fiscal quarter in the UK, etc). #fairpayforbloggers needs to include fairly similar quality of work offered compared to the pros.

 

So, how could professional bloggers achieve legitimacy? There could be some sort of oversight body that can guarantee to Company X that the blogger with the seal of approval is trained in the newest methods of SEO, social media steps, copyediting, photography, and of course marketing and networking. Collective bargaining would also need to be enacted so when pro bloggers en masse say they won’t review products for less than price £X, no ‘scabs’ will go behind their backs and undercut them. And then of course would be a consistent, constant, set of standards; hard deadlines, no vacations (The Times don’t take two weeks off every summer, neither can blogs), no social media meltdowns (can you imagine BBC and NPR sniping at each other on twitter all weekend, or calling anyone who criticized their reporting as a ‘hater’?), and in short, being as perfectly polished a brand as the best PR firm out there. If those things happened, then yes, professional bloggers would get equal footing. But the onus is every full time blogger to make that happen, not PR companies.

 

There are a number of pro bloggers out there who I enjoy – Nate Silver immediately comes to mind – and I hope that any blogger out there who wants to be self-employed will take a page from Mr. Silver’s New York Times bestselling book and follow his professional and personal trajectory. I’ve done this for 12 years, and I enjoy it for what it is – a bit of fun. My goal has never been to blog professionally, so other than this being a long standing hobby (as well as marketing and strategy being the focus of my MBA), I don’t have a dog in this particular fight. And hell, while it would shut down GOMI, I’d love to see bloggers achieve such a high internal benchmarking that they could pass for professional writers/photographers/stylists/chefs/etc even if it’s just a hobby for them. But again, the responsibility lies on each individual blogger who wants to make a living from their site to raise their standards to such a level that a PR firm has no choice but to pay their asking price; until that happens, the #fairpayforbloggers debate will raise its head every year or so, with no resolution.

 

 

 

*Edited for clarity on first sentences of paragraph. See, if I had an editor, that would have come back with red ink all over it!

** All this being said, journalism as a whole doesn’t get a free pass from me – I’ve written before at length at how the 24/7 news cycle ruined in-depth, long form journalism, and how many once admirable journos (*cough* Anderson Cooper *cough*) have fallen to the substandard bollocks that is ‘get the scoop regardless of veracity’ variety. Seriously, Cooper, ditch CNN. You are so much better than them. But as this post was about bloggers, not journos per se, I stuck with them. 


Bloggers: Rethinking Social Media 4

As part of my MBA work I get to pick the brains of leaders in various fields, and I once asked an executive from Mercedes Benz what helped him manage strategy and change in his corporation so well.  He responded, “If you want to understand long term strategy, play the game Settlers of Catan.  If you want to understand change, read the book ‘Our Iceberg is Melting’ by John Kotter”.  I bought both, and I am a believer. (links for US and UK are at end of post).

 

Both use children’s concepts (gameplay for Catan, and fables for Iceberg), but behind them are incredibly complex mechanisms.   Settlers of Catan force you to look not ahead, but beyond, to see past the ‘next big thing’ or ‘next crisis’, a sort of meta-strategy concept.  And ‘Our Iceberg is Melting’ perfectly illustrates the many issues that can arise from either seeing (or not seeing) potential problems.

 

I told you that to tell you this…

I like social media.  I used to make nice money working on it for other people.  But I’m looking down the road, and I’m seeing a problem, and the problem is this:

Where we think we’re going with engagement, isn’t where social media is going.

 

When social media first started, it was all about casting your net as widely as possible and ‘catching’ as many people as you could.  How many of us scrolled through maiden names on facebook looking for old high school classmates who, let’s face it, we had no actual intention or desire to want to keep in touch with?  How many of us clicked tens or hundreds of ‘likes’ on subjects because we could?  Sure, I like the Taco Bell dog!  Of course I remember the 90’s, I’ll like that!  Why not, I’ll click that I like it when people on America’s Funniest Home Videos get hit in the crotch!

But as we matured, we began wanting quality over quantity.  No, I didn’t care what someone I went to school with 15 years ago was doing this weekend.  No, I didn’t care about the Yo Quiero Taco Bell ringtone that stupid dog was hawking.  Now that I think about it, it’s not actually that funny to watch someone’s genitalia get smacked with a baseball.  So we began to pare down, and become selective with our interaction with content.

Now we find ourselves increasingly isolated within social media bubbles.  I might see the same meme 5 times a night on my wall, or in my twitter timeline, not because of the quantity of users, but because ideologically I’ve winnowed my worldview down so narrowly that it’s become little more than an echo chamber.  The point of social media was to hear and see new things, but as we’ve seen and heard it all, there is little point to the conduit now (facebook, twitter, etc).

This is what regular folk experience through social media – a sort of lifecycle of engagement, if you will.  But what about businesses?  Well, if they are small/local, they will tend to have limited engagement anyway, so that’s fine.  And if they’re multi-national, they are generally created for more publicity (eyes on page) than back and forth communication with users, so they are fine.  So, who should worry?

Bloggers.

Bloggers of all types should be worrying big time about this shift of consumer needs.  This was perfectly illustrated yesterday with the brilliant Youtube blogger Veritasium and his Facebook Fraud video, shown below.  I recommend getting a pad of paper and pen for this one, you are going to want to take notes.

And no, what you wrote down should NOT have been ‘buy facebook likes and twitter followers’.  First off, that crap can get you booted off social media networks so fast it will make your head spin.  What you should have written down was:  “How do I engage with my readers when the deck is stacked against me?”.  That is the question ALL bloggers are going to need to ask themselves, and quickly.  I have some ideas, but even I’m not sure how it’s all going to go down.  What I do know is, engagement needs to shift ahead  of facebook and twitter, forcing them to conform to us, not the other way around as is currently happening.

Does this mean leaving fb and twitter?  Maybe.  Maybe it means Google hangouts.  Maybe it means something else, I’m not sure.  What I do know is, change is coming externally on the blogging community, when it should be internally.  Our iceberg is melting, and we haven’t realized it yet.

 

 

(For US based folks)

(For UK folk)

 

ETA:  Holy crap just watched Veritasium’s first facebook vid and was screaming at the screen I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!, more brilliance as to why bloggers are screwed:


“Pinterest Stress” and the lie of modern social media 10

I’ve never been into Pinterest.  A friend of mine asked me once if she could ‘pin’ a photo I took, and apparently it got repinned and hearted or something a few times.  I went to look at it, and lo and behold! my picture! Next to a bunch of other pictures!  Um…Okay!  I look at Pinterest the same way I look at Instagram: If I see a pic directly linked, I’ll look at it, but otherwise, I’m not going to pour over it like it was the Sunday NYT.  (Instagram also gets shade from me for intentionally making photos look shitty.  Why in God’s name should I own a £400 phone just to slap filters over my pictures so it looks like I took them on a disposable camera that was stuck in the back shelf of a car for an entire summer?  Makes no sense).

Imagine my dismay then when I read a Today Show survey in which 7000 Pinners were asked about Pinterest, and 42% reported being stressed out by the pretty pictures, worried that their efforts didn’t measure up.  Oy vey.  People, I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret about some of the blogs those Pinterest accounts come from, a secret that I know because I’ve helped in their duplicity:

 

They aren’t real.  Like, at all.

 

Just as Martha Stewart doesn’t actually bake every apple tart she presents with that Mid-Atlantic-bored-in-the-Hamptons drone to her fabulously disaffected friends on the dock of their sprawling estate, a lot, and I mean A LOT of your favourite bloggers figured out that if they wanted to be ‘sponsored’ (read, paid to blog), they needed a team to create their online empire.

 

Without further ado, here’s a 4 second primer on how you can make money online blogging:

Google Adsense.  Pageviews and clickthroughs equal money in your pocket.

Product reviews and giveaways.  Companies pay you in product or cash to review their products, and sponsor giveaways on your blog.

Blog sponsorship or partnership.  A company ‘proudly presents’ your blog.  They have exclusive control usually of all advertising, and ‘guide’ content.

 

The more money a company puts in, the more on message you need to be.  Google Adsense?  As long as you aren’t breaking the law, they’ll host ads on your site.  Blog sponsorship?  You may want to avoid that explicative filled rant about the Pope.

But where do people like I come in?  My side job from raising a kid and my MBA is I am a private social media consultant.  I sit down with very discreet people, and create social media plans for them.  Everything from perfectly timed posts (hit 12.30 for your target market timezone M-F, with a short update around 4.30, people tend to check their online stuff right before they leave for work!) to twitter (5 posts a day at intervals, 3 of them linking to other higher-ranked twitterers, one linking back to your site, and one of plain text!), to facebook (dying quickly – are you on tumblr yet?  That’s where most of the fb deserters 16-24 are!  Hit your demographics!).  For a small fee, I even schedule and administer these functions, making you look effortless as your perfectly pressed napkin sunflowers.  And I’m not the only one – from freelance photogs who come in and shoot an entire years of blog pics over a weekend, to the web designer who makes sure your follow buttons are the perfect shade of cornflower blue, there is a whole cottage industry revolving around making someone’s high ranking blog look like a one superwoman show.

This is not to say that all bloggers who make money off this stuff are liars.  Far from it.  I know many a blogger who are that adept with an icing bag and white box for photography, and really do make it look very easy.  They are incredibly well organized, and tend to be stay at home parents/spouses.   They are not getting home from work at 7 pm to a house that hasn’t been touched since 7.30 that morning, this is what they do pretty much 24/7.

You are not them.

Blogging is the same as any other form of commerce – marketing is involved.  Theatricality is employed, white lies are told, and people buy into it.  The Wizard of Oz is usually nothing more than a little old man with a lot of machinery.  (I even know one popular ‘mommy’ blogger who isn’t a mommy – those are her nieces and nephews!) Ansoff’s Matrix is alive and well in the digital world.  Comparing your stuff to the images on Pinterest is as useless as comparing your beef bourguignon to Anthony Bourdain’s…it’s not a fair fight.  For some ungodly reason, we’ve gotten it into our heads to take our ‘keeping up with the Jonses’ out of the real world and into the world of literally ephemera.  If you take nothing else away, please know…

This?  This isn’t real.  This is a collection of data packets.  Don’t compare yourself to a gaggle of 1’s and o’s.  You are better than that.  


US Shootings and the myth of the ‘crazed gunman’. 1

(Editor’s note:  If you want conspiracy, go here).

 

Since no actual changes will be made to gun control or regulation (thanks, NRA and the politicians currently taking your blood money!), I thought I’d address an issue with post-shooting armchair psychiatry.  It never fails, after a mass shooting in the US, someone says “If only this crazy person wouldn’t have snapped, everything would have been okay”.  To begin, we need to understand that there are several definitions of ‘crazy’ (insane).

US Legal definition:  Mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.  Unsoundness of mind sufficient in the judgment of a civil court to render a person unfit to maintain a contractual or other legal relationship or to warrant commitment to a mental health facility.

US societal definition:  Mental illness or derangement.  No longer used in Medical form, instead use ‘mental health issues’.

As you can see, one can have mental health issues without necessarily being ‘insane’ in the legal sense of the word.  Plenty of people with mental health issues (author included) can attend day-to-day interactions without blowing away a school.  Important distinction.

The next issue concerns our uncomfortability with the human condition.  We don’t want to think of ourselves as base creatures, capable of extreme violence or disregard for humanity, so whenever a tragedy strikes, we call the assailant ‘crazy’.  After all, only an insane person would harm a child, right?  Well, according the the US government’s Administration for Children and Families:

“In 2004 approximately 3.5 million children were involved in investigations of alleged abuse or neglect in the US, while an estimated 872,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected, and an estimated 1,490 children died that year because of abuse or neglect. In 2007, 1,760 children died as the result of child abuse and neglect.[1] Child abuse impacts the most vulnerable populations, with children under age five years accounting for 76% of fatalities.[2] In 2008, 8.3 children per 1000 were victims of child abuse and neglect and 10.2 children per 1000 were in out of home placement.[3]

Were all the people in the above issues insane?  No.  Some may have been, but the majority were just awful human beings.  In fact, some of the most extensive abuses came from people lucid enough to create intricate machinations of torture and death.  From Pol Pot, Stalin, and Hitler, to the US’s own KKK, these people killed millions upon millions of innocent humans, and did knowing full well it was wrong.

So why do we want to run to the ‘crazy’ card?  Because it gives us a false sense of security.  We don’t do awful things, damaged people do.  We are good, we are decent, we would never be like that.  Every time a serial killer is caught, the neighbors go on tv and say the same thing – “He seemed so normal, we never suspected.”.  That’s the point – he was ‘normal’, but he was also an awful person.  Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer, worked for the city, was a scout leader, former head of his church, and methodically killed 10 women over a 17 year period.  He knew exactly what he was doing; he knew it was wrong; he did it anyways.  He was evil – he wasn’t insane.

It may explain why when a person of color commits an atrocity, they are evil, but when a white dude from our country does it, he’s nuts.  No one called for psych evals on the 9/11 bombers, they just talked about how evil the people involved were.  Yet here, we immediately play armchair Freuds and proclaim a pre-emptive insanity defence.  It’s the us-vs-them situation.  They are terrorists; we are just a lone nut.  They are evil; we are mentally unstable.  They could have stopped themselves, we had no control.  We separate ourselves from evil acts by assigning insanity to the aggressor to soothe ourselves as a society.  Problem is, it doesn’t stop the next killing.

It’s all academic in the end.  After all, in a week we’ll all take down our commemorative avatars, and go back to obsessing over whatever reality show is popular, and the NRA will continue its tireless quest to keep para-military equipment in the hands of everyone.  Nothing will actually change, and we’ll all pretend to be surprised when the next mass shooting occurs.  But at the very least, the next time around, maybe we can assume the assailant is bad before we assume they are ‘nuts’.

 


Post Tragedy, How To Avoid Online Scams 4

(Editor’s note:  If you want conspiracy, go here).

 

As the names of the children and staff of Sandy Hook are formally released to the public, social media will be flooded with memes of remembrance and tributes. While some of the people creating these images have only the best intentions, many more are spreading these viral images for underhanded and sometimes illegal purposes. Here’s a list of ways that you can help and avoid becoming a victim.

1. The Facebook ‘Like and Share’: We’ve all seen the photos on Facebook – a little girl hooked up to machines in a hospital bed, asking you to like and share if you would like to see an end to cancer. Some even show a once healthy, now sadly deceased child, imploring you to help them break a world record for likes, so their sweet baby in heaven can see how much she touched lives, or imploring you to wear a certain color on a certain day in her memory, and to pass this message to everyone you know. Even more touching is when the creator of the page claims they will donate $1 for every hundred likes and shares, if you like their page first.

Problem is, most of these are completely fake memes, usually taken from pre-made photos of grieving parents without their knowledge. Every time you like and share one of these images, the algorithm in the social media platform you are using assigns that image a level of importance – the more people who like and share, the higher importance that image has. That explains why sometimes you see the same image three or four times on your news feed. When people ‘like’ the page that created the meme (usually a name like “All The Newtown Babies Are Now Angels”), that page also rises through the algorithm rankings. The creator of the page then sells the page wholesale to the highest bidder in online marketer forums. The name of the page is changed (usually to a cheap product page) and your facebook feed gets flooded with sales spam.

(Edited to add:  I just screencapped this from a ‘memorial’ facebook page – parents of very much alive children are finding their kid’s pictures on ‘Shooting victims’ photo collages.  Stay classy, scam artists!)

 

2. The ‘Commemorative Sales’ page: I’ve seen this across every social media board – a link to a page where a commemorative car magnet or mug is being sold, with “a portion of the profits” going to help the grieving families. Any time a sales page says “portion” of profits, they usually mean less than 1% of whatever they make off the scam, if that. You are better off donating directly to the community than buying whatever trinket is being offered to you online.

3. The Celeb quote or real-time update: This is a rather cruel trick, even compared to the above, where an anonymous meme will proclaim the dying words of a victim, or attribute a celebrity quote to further their own cause. The meme will say something like “Little Jessica’s last words were: ‘I hope people know my mommy and daddy were the best for me’ – LIKE and SHARE if you support traditional marriage!!!”, or ‘If only everyone in Sandy Hook had guns, this tragedy could have been avoided “ – Morgan Freeman’. These are almost always completely false, and preys on the emotional side of us to try and score political points for whatever the creator’s cause is.
If you are ever in doubt, go to a fact checking site like Snopes to see if the story you are spreading is real or a lie. They are unfortunately already very busy picking out fake images spreading from the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, which means there are going to be a lot more scam artists working in the next few days.

So how can you avoid scams, while also helping the victims of a tragedy? Here are some top tips:

1. If you want to donate to a community, go to their local webpage (almost every town has one) or local affiliate news station’s site. They will have detailed information on how to assist the community, from financial donations to blood drives. Your re-tweets or upvotes will not help anyone – they need cash for counsellors, funerals, and to repair buildings.

2.Many larger online entities will have donation pots available online for site-or –community specific donations. Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, and other larger retailers have a safe and secure way to donate money. If it’s not a webpage you’ve heard of before, don’t give them your credit card details! You are simply asking to be a victim of credit card fraud.

3.Contact your local Red Cross and ask to send your donation specifically to the victims of the tragedy. Larger charities have a great support network, and can get your donation straight to the source.

These are all completely safe ways to help in any post-catastrophe situation which ensures your donation will have the greatest bang for its buck when helping the victims and their families.

And finally, if you feel laws should change after a horrific incident, sharing a commemorative ribbon online and then forgetting about it in a week will not work. You have to pick up the phone and call your representatives from the House of Representatives, Senate, and White House to see change. A picture shared on Twitter or Myspace only makes you feel good for a second – a letter to your legislator could save future lives.

House Directory here
Senate Directory here
White House Directory here


The science of getting over yourself

Over on LiveJournal (I know, I know, but I beta tested the original platform way back in the SixApart days, I have a soft spot for it), the crazy cat ladies are up in a tizzy over people putting ‘cuts’ (where you have a false link warning the reader that you are talking about houseplants, cats, marriage, bdsm, whatever), and that by clicking on it, they take all responsibility for their own well being brought about from reading your journal. Bear in mind, this is not about a person you added because you both like puppies, only for them to suddenly posting severed heads. This is people who purposely added you for whatever reason, and who are now mad at you. Apparently marriage, children (OH DEAR GOD ESPECIALLY CHILDREN), and anything that makes you happy is now triggering, and you should write your journal appropriately (or just not write about it at all).

Gather round, kids, because Auntie Shea is going to tell you why these people are asshats.

I cannot believe it actually has to be said, but your personal journal/blog/vlog/facebook page/twitter stream/whatever the hell you use is YOUR PERSONAL WORDS. It is the modern equivalent of the old fashioned My Little Pony lock and key diary that you let only your bestest of best friend read. It is your safe place to let out your hopes, dreams, thoughts, fears, and ambitions. It is the time capsule of your existence.

Fuck anyone who gripes at you for putting yourself to the page.

Mark Zuckerberg has not, at the time of this writing, figured out how to peel peoples’ eyes open and force anyone associated with you to read every last thing you have written, and while the Russian mafia are busy ruining LJ, I think even they don’t have the manpower to make your feed scroll through every last bit you post. They will be fine.

The people on my various feeds are a wide, diverse group, with many interests. A great deal of things I have in common with them – many, I don’t. So, when I see a bank of 40 instagram photos of dying houseplants, or a slashfic that they have just finished of the cast of “Gunsmoke”, or a finely detailed description of their last spelunking tour, I (being an adult who understands that I do not have to read every damn thing put in front of me), simply goes to the next entry/tweet/blog/etc. They were nice enough to show me their diary, I’m sure as hell not going to shit on it.

“But!” I hear you say “But what if they are going on and on and on about something that makes me truly unhappy” (ie, they are losing weight when you can’t, they found love while you are still alone, they finished that Doctor Who scarf when you can barely get to the yarn store, etc)? Well, then you get off their feed, and do one of two things – if you aren’t irl (in real life) friends, get on with your day. If you are irl friends, get off your damn ass and either pick up the phone or send them an email, and ask them about anything other than their triggering element.

“BUT BUT BUT” you scream, “But what if she’s going on and on about her stupid little sprog, as if I care that she plopped a crotch dropping?” Then. You. STFU. And. Read. This.